Georgia criminal defense lawyers say the state Judicial Council’s proposal to let judges continue suspending speedy trial deadlines absent a statewide emergency sidesteps a key issue: Criminal case backlogs were chronic long before COVID-19. 

Members of the state’s criminal defense bar are also raising concerns that the proposal—approved in principle by the Judicial Council on Dec. 11—has no sunset provision, is not linked to a specific backlog of criminal cases resulting from the pandemic and places the burdens associated with pending criminal cases largely on defendants.